Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Keeping Up

For those of my readers who are lucky enough to have healthy and happy children, I wish to caution that keeping up with them gets harder each year. 

I am in my mid-70s and my daughter's family of pre-teens and teenagers is very much into physical activity. My daughter planned a "glamping" trip over the weekend as a Mother's Day event. The trip included sleeping in fancy Teepees that had electricity and indoor plumbing and spending the day doing things like kayak/canoeing, bicycle riding, and rope climbing. I participated in the first two but have outgrown ziplining and tree climbing! (In retrospect I think the trip was to keep the rest of her family happy while pretending it was a Mother's Day event. Also, it was her Mother's Day of course.) We all are vaccinated or in the case of my daughter's family recovered from COVID and they are soon to get their shots.  Most of it was outdoors and masking was only when they were in groups of others.

My son and his wife joined us as well, but even they had trouble keeping up.

Below a montage of memories from the event and wishing those of you who have children, a belated Happy Mother's Day and perhaps, one that was very simple where they just took you out to dinner.

Friday, May 07, 2021

I Write the Best Posts at Night

Just as I drift (attempt to drift) off to sleep, I can write the very best posts for this blog. I come up with wonderful subjects that can lend themselves to concise or elaborate text. Ideas that are meaningful and compelling. Subjects that are interesting or intriguing or just friendly and familiar.  When I wake up in the morning my ideas have all pixelated into the disjointed fog just like those photos that are enlarged all out of proportion to their original digital information.

Since my fifteen-month illness disappeared faster than this spring's tulips, I have felt more creative and energetic.  But I find these are just feelings and not something that is manifested into concrete production and activity.  I am back working on my free weights and my running on the elliptical, but there are many days that I can find excuses to put this off until the following day.  Excuses like the exercise clothes I have really should be washed, I must wait to digest my recent meal (which becomes an excuse to wait until just before the next meal), or finally, I have to clean out the inbox of my emails.  

My creativity is there for this blog, but when strained through the clean light of morning,  it also comes out flat and must be put off until after the news, after the gardening, after cooking.  Excuses.

Most of my readers are my age...old.  Their lives do not stand still as they move forward with the challenges of aging.  I go to their blogs and find I have missed a crisis or two or even three!  I feel guilty for sitting on my thumbs when the real world is still turning.

Perhaps I should write about the new fellow that has moved in quite comfortably under the deck.

Yet, I do believe that the real world is once again getting back to order and people are once again moving at a quicker pace.  There is a large group of people in my country who are on a hate fest and who will not be happy until they 'win' whatever it is they think they are pursuing.  But the larger group of people just want normal and courteous discourse and freedom to love the nature of the world once again.  I think they would even be willing to read a boring blog or two to inject normalcy back into their lives.

I will write soon about the goose saga.  With encouraging and discouraging photos, because us old ladies have not much else in our lives but birds.

My coffee is now cold, so I am off to read your blogs and hopefully to comment!

Monday, April 26, 2021

Is That a Light I see?

"Kontorovich told me. “Patients had been told symptoms were in their head or purely due to anxiety.” Her patients epitomize the kind whom the medical system frequently fails—by contesting the reality of their illness, sending them from specialist to specialist, loading them up with drugs without getting to the root cause."

The above was taken from a long article in The Atlantic about long-haul patients who have had COVID.  The patients vary in that many may have had a few days of illness while others were hospitalized and they are also varied in their normal health and exercise routines prior to COVID.  They got well and then they got heart and breathing and oxygen symptoms days, weeks, or months later.

My search for a cause and end to the coughing also sent me on that endless experimental trial of medicines of all types.  Side-effects were sometimes scary.  The medical community wants clear results and they get lazy or impatient when the things they have successfully tried for years fail to work on a patient.  They wonder if you are just one of those old ladies who wants attention.  "According to experts, the prevalence of hypochondria ranges from 4 percent to 7 percent in the general population, affecting both men and women equally."  So I guess if you fail to find a solution for 4 out of every 100 hundred patients, you must assume they are psychologically ill or very lonely.

My most recent doctor diagnosed Silent Gerd.  She put me on a 'proton pump inhibitor' pill which inhibits my stomach from producing acid.  She added a cough suppressant pill that I took three times a day.  After a week of this pharmaceutical diet, I documented on paper that my cough continued intensively 12 to 15 times during the day, interrupting my cooking, gardening, movie watching.  It followed with runny sinuses and never being far from a box of tissues.  I would get attacks three to four times at night waking me.  The acid reducer gave me severe diarrhea and the doctor allowed me to cut it in half and told me to go off the cough suppressant since it was not working.

After a week of exhaustion, I decided I was going to take Sominex (an over-the-counter sleep aid) and try to sleep through the night.  The first night I took it I slept like a log!  Waking not once.  The next day I had NO coughing all day.  I continued the medication but also took one Sominex for several nights after that and the coughing totally disappeared!  Sudden onset of normality?  I have stopped the Sominex and find I am sleeping reasonably well and not waking with coughing spells at all.  I go through the day and have regained better breathing (I sometimes had shortness of breath) .  My doctor will assume it is her prescriptions...but such a sudden switch after about 5 or 6 days of taking the medicine makes me wonder.  Shouldn't there have been tapering off?

And like every other hypochondriac, after reading the Atlantic article I wonder if I had contracted COVID?  I never have been tested for it.  

All I know is that I am returning to normal and looking forward to a family weekend with my children and grandchildren in two week.  Everyone here in the state (with a brain) is being vaccinated and our infection rates are dropping dramatically.  I see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Singing on a Train....Wait for it.

I  have been busy and not busy.  I have been here and there.  Blogging has not been something that called to me or fulfilled me.  

My two-shot  vaccine regimen has been completed and I have been able to  hug my grandchildren, something that is unmeasurable in its pleasure.   All five of them caught Covid in their bubble while being social, but it was only a few days long  and they survived the worst.  

I was able to visit my oldest grandson on his 16th birthday.  He is a  handsome, tall and a thin nerdy boy with so much hair there must be birds who crave to nest on his head.  I hugged and ran my hands over his thin and boney shoulders and down his strong but lean back,  Then I hugged my granddaughter who is built like a draft horse and could lift the back of a car.  She has a strong and lovely body and will fight weight gain in  her  mid-life years, but her cheer activities have kept her healthy.  She was sharp and lacked patience as a child, but has evolved into a loving person as a 13-year-old.  My youngest, a boy at 10, is still evolving,  but his hug was free and honest.  He will  be the handsome  and  popular young man  in  college and will probably date the prom Queen who will break his heart and make him stronger to face life's twists and turns.

I have still failed to conquer my chronic cough which has made me hopeful and then depressed with each new attempt at treatment.  My allergist finally sent me for a C-Scan which he said revealed an infection in the lining of the sinus cavities under my eyes. He sent me to a well-respected ENT surgeon in the city.  I was nervous to meet with her, not for the illness, but because I had  to get there on time!  My husband and I Ubered after spending the night at my daughter's.  The ENT surgeon was nice and kind and told me her 'friend" my allergist was wrong after looking at my scans.  She ran another camera down my nose and into my throat (after an anesthetic spray) and said she saw swelling at the part of my throat where I swallow.  NO surprise to me as I  have a coughing/gagging spell every 1 to 2 hours day and night!  She diagnosed what she called  "silent acid reflux".  I was eager to accept this as I had feared surgery of some unnatural order.

I am  now on another set of drugs and waiting to see if  this will help.  But I am  afraid of the diet restrictions on the list she gave me.  It seems all I can eat is oatmeal and meat....!  This dance will be  difficult and I do not believe I will be successful!

Spring is here in all its full glory.  Warmer weather interrupted by rains is ahead.  I have planted my annual seedlings.

My son and his wife visited last week now that we have our shots.  They have not caught Covid nor have any vaccines.  They are now registered and since our state is wide-open I am hoping for a perfect family gathering the first of May.  I love all of my family and feel blessed for that.

It has been a difficult year and I wish all of you the strength that it takes to get through it.  You are all precious souls and need to be here for the rest of  us!

For some wonderful German mind engineering go to the link below"

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

A Reset On Our Value System?

Empty streets and quiet cities...

The text below was taken from a New York Times Opinion Column written by Frank Bruni on how we are preparing ourselves for the future without the pandemic.

"...They wish, as any sane person does, that the pandemic had never happened. They hate what it did to this country, to this world, and to many aspects of their own lives and the lives of loved ones.

But its brutal winnowing of their social obligations and commitments beyond the home? They actually didn’t mind this, at least not so much. Their movements had grown hectic and their schedules overstuffed.

The way in which shuttered schools, canceled extracurricular activities, and closed offices compelled them and their children to spend more time together? There was stress in this, often proportional to a home’s square footage, but there was also intimacy. They liked how many nights everyone ate dinner together.

The halt to commuting? That was all upside and, along with the cessation of business travel, it produced a revelation: In-person meetings and the logistics that went into them weren’t as necessary as everyone thought. There were cheaper and easier alternatives."

I know the above is true with the attitudes of my two adult children and their families.  Americans live a rushed and career-oriented life.  We are often amazed that Europeans do not care so much about their jobs and are not afraid to take long vacations.  Maybe this pandemic will reset our Puritan work ethic problem!

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Guinea Pigs Are We ALL?

This is a health post, and if you are not into that after this horrendous year, I will understand and you can move on.

I think with medical care some of us think Doctors are marvelous geniuses and inciteful and caring.  Afterall, we have seem them risking their lives for the past year saving lives in a pandemic.

Yet, our local physicians which run a private office within small practices are pretty much normal people, some with exceptional skills and others counting down  the days until they can retire, with most of them in a  mediocre middle.  Within a rural community this is even more so.

I have written about this dibilitating cough that I started to get over a year ago.  It is the kind of dry cough that cannot be muffled and sometimes ends with a gag or at other times a raging sneezing fit and other times weeping eyes.  Because I am home 99% of the time, I have not had to leave a room or face embarassment.  It  would occur even in the evenings when I was sleeping.  Some nights I was awakened every two hours.  It has been a year since I have had more than 4 hours of continued sleep.  My primary sent me to an ENT who had me x-rayed as well as sent a camera through my nasel passage and down my throat.  Since she found nothing, she sent me to an allergist.  I had already spent over a month tracking what I ate and what I breathed, etc. purchasing a $200 room filter and last spring even leaving my house for a trip for a number of days to see if it was the house and nothing changed in each instance.  I have no fever and no loss of appetite.

The allergist ran those two dozen skin test pricks on my inside arm and said I was  allergic to a number of  things including polllens, but nothing severely.  ( I know that I am severly allergic to cat dander!)

He then started me on a nerve medication, something you give to someone who is under stress and needs tranquilzing.  No side effects after a month and also no reduction in coughing 8-10 times daily and then through the night.  We changed to a second nerve medication and he said that coughs can be VERY hard to find the cause.  A month of the second nerve medication and no side effeccts  and no reduction in cough.  I had to be taken off it gradually as it did  make me dizzy and I had a waking dream the day after! He then tried a third medication which did not reduce the cough but the warned side effect of anxiety and temper did kick in and I told him after two weeks, I was no longer taking it as I was getting murderous!  We are a fragile chemical factory!

At my most reent visit  (four months after my initial visit) he  prescribed a blood test (I was too tired to ask what he was looking for although I did ask if it  could  be a fungus) and also a CT Scan.  He called  last week and said they did find an infection in the top two sinus cavities by my eyes!  I then was put on a 10 day course  of antibiotics  and a 5 day course of a steroid.  I immediately called to explain that I was  getting my second  Covid Moderna shot in two days and wondered about the wisdom of being on a steriod ... my understanding that it suppressed the immune reaction.  He agreed I should only take the antibiotic.  I was thinking that ALL doctors should have COVID in the back of their mind with every patient when they are prescribing these days as many patients do not research their meds!

Anyway, I am on my 4th day of the antibiotic and the cough has been cut by about 30% and  usually is not so intense.  But the cough has not gone away.  I got no  reaction to  my second Covid  shot except for a sore arm muscle and what seems to be two days of fatigue.  I have taken advantage of this being a test tube to try to nap each day and rest generally by doing nothing this whole weekend as I have not felt super energetic.  I MUST do some exercise on Monday.  Tonight is take-out unhealthy pizza.

Anyway, I am so tired of being a guinea pig in this process and exhausted as it has been a whole year of this cough.  I have my fingers crossed and the doctor recommends taking the sterioids in about 9 days.  Wish me luck!  As someone who had fought food poisoning while living overseas and  dengue fever while overseas on a tropical island...under mediocre medical care, I was unprepared for this.

Sunday, March 07, 2021

Changing Seasons and Seeing Things in a New Light

The longer daylight and the angle of the sun have awakened the hormones in my birds. I saw an American Cardinal couple kissing the other day! Right out in the open! Right on my deck! Ah, young love. 

The longer daylight and the angle of the sun have also awakened dismay in me. I see all the dribbles and spots on my kitchen cupboards under the morning sun's spotlight. I see the dust bunnies and gunk on the kitchen lighting. 

My kitchen has a small island with a range. Since I have a high ceiling I did not want a huge ceiling vent fan coming down. It would be enormous to clean as well as allowing a draft of cold air to seep through in the winters down that long vent. Therefore, I had installed a counter pop-up fan behind the range. I can never use the fan on high. It is not as efficient and it draws the heat away, so affects cooking, but the filters can go in the dishwasher and there is less to clean.

But the "fancy" lighting fixture that was installed above is a bit of a nightmare to clean. I actually think it was for pool table lighting!  Since I have a bit of a wrought iron theme going in the living area, I selected it.  I have been putting off cleaning for quite some time and this year tried to remove the three lamp hoods and glass shades and pop them in the dishwasher.  I could not actually reach all the curled iron above which was covered in grease.  I got two of the fixtures down using my kitchen ladder and patience.  The last one would not come off.  The ceramic threads were misaligned.  I called in my tall friend. (You may remember the fellow who helped with the Osprey nest.)  HE could NOT get the glass shade off either!

Thus he used his height and good eyes and long arms and cleaned the shades as well as the iron decoration with a rag and some Mr. Clean.  It now sparkles.  He also helped me re-assemble the parts that I had put through the dishwasher.

I now have to go to the hardware and get a finish polisher to shine the two black hoods.  Easy enough! It hangs about an inch off-center, but I will have to live with that.  Now I have to wash all the cupboards!